Osun election: Lessons for Ogun PDP

By Danny Kwangogo

Recent happenings in Osun State as they relate to the September 22 governorship election are all too familiar to begin a recap here. It is most likely that by the time this piece is published, the election would have been won and lost. Indeed, some have wagered that it had been won and lost since the first ballot last Saturday. They do not see the rerun in the seven polling units changing the outcome of the election.

 But, whichever way it goes; there are useful lessons to be learnt from the handling of the intra-party crises by the political leaders on both sides of the divide. Recall that it was the fallout of the primary election for the Osun West senatorial ticket that forced Senator Ademola Adeleke out of the APC. However, the focus of this piece is the handling of internal crises within the Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vis-à-vis the Ogun State chapter of the party. Perhaps, the party would not have been in the tight situation it found itself had the leaders better managed its internal crisis. It is a no-brainer that disagreements over the control of the party structure and how the national leadership of the party handled same that forced the Senator Iyiola Omisore group out of the PDP.

Worse still, even when the first ballot ended in a near stalemate and a rerun scheduled, one would have expected the national leadership of the party to seize the moment and provide the much-needed leadership. But, no, the Uche Secondus-led NWC was nowhere near Osun State. Rather, it was the Senate President and Chairman of the PDP Governorship Campaign Council, Dr. Bukola Saraki that took the initiative to engage Omisore, whereas on the other hand, the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led about five governors, a minister and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives to negotiate with Omisore. Are you then surprised at the outcome?

Whilst some may contend or even pretend that the control of the party structure should not be in the hands of an individual, others may canvass a collegiate system. Yet, this is Nigeria and Africa, where structures are built around individuals and not institutions. That is the sad reality, no matter the pretensions. Some may argue that if that were the case, do we have to continue on that trajectory? Yes and no. Yes, if you do not want to be the one on whose head the proverbial coconut would be broken…as such a person would not partake in the eating of the coconut. No, because history is replete with examples of former members of an establishment that brought positive changes to their environments and societies by rising up against long-held traditions, practices and customs. Whichever one you choose has its attendant consequences. Have you counted the cost? Are you ready to pay the price?

But, that is not the focus of this piece. Rather, it has to do with how not to manage internal political crises or disagreements. Many analysts have reasoned that if Senator Omisore had not left the PDP, whoever was the governorship candidate of the party would have won with a wide margin when compared to the 254,345 votes of the All Progressives Congress (APC). They simply added the 254,698 votes that the PDP garnered at the first ballot on the 22nd of September, 2018, to Senator Iyiola Omisore’s 128,049 votes. Recall that Omisore who ran as the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was until May this year a chieftain of the PDP. Again, the pundits may be right and they may be wrong on the addition and subtraction of votes to either side. It could be further contended that had they not fallen apart, there may not be a serious push to prove a point.

The other dimension to this line of arguments is Omisore’s decision to pitch his tent with the APC in the rerun election. It is convenient to criticize Senator Omisore and call him all manner of names over his decision. We may even find it difficult to understand how he came to the decision to work with those who constantly accused him of having a hand in the death of the “Cicero of Esa-Oke”. We may want to further ask: what exactly was he offered? Was it not the same government that arrested and charged him to court over the 2014 governorship election campaign funds in Osun State? Where is the place of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in all of these? Who would implement the decisions reached at the meetings? What would happen if either party reneges on the agreements reached? Questions, questions and more questions!

But whichever side of the divide you belong and however you look at it, the point is: the situation within the Osun State chapter of the PDP would not have come to this sorry pass had the national leadership of the party shown some level of leadership and circumspection. A situation where the national leadership of the PDP allows itself to be fed with some tissues of lies and/or permits some narrow and parochial interests and considerations to becloud its sense of judgments, thereby calling the bluff of tested and experienced politicians does more harm than good to the party. The result is what we have seen in Osun State where the PDP was literally put on a cliffhanger.

The same scenario is playing out in Ogun State where a serving senator who is the highest political office holder on the platform of the PDP is being victimized to satisfy a tiny clique. Naturally, the one at the receiving end will fight back; if not now, certainly later. How do you explain the expulsion of a consummate mobiliser and grassroots politician like Senator Buruji Kashamu months to the general election without due process? Can the party rightly expel its members without complying with its own Constitution? What offence could anyone have committed to warrant such a drastic action? Is it not said that two wrongs do not make a right? Has the national leadership of the party engaged the contending groups in dialogue and negotiation in an atmosphere of give-and-take? Why has the Secondus-led NWC decided to go for broke over the Ogun State PDP issue? Is it not more of ego than any sublime considerations? Does the PDP really want to stage a come-back in 2019?  It is more so when the Kashamu group is said to have court judgments even up to the appellate court recognizing it as well as the concurrence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

One does not need a soothsayer to know that if something fast is not done to engage and resolve the issues between the two main contending groups within the Ogun State chapter of the PDP (as represented by the Senator Kashamu group and Hon. Ladi Adebutu group), it is most likely that the scenario that played out between the Osun State chapter of the PDP, which led to the splitting of votes with the SDP, will play out at the 2019 general election in Ogun State. Like Omisore, Kashamu has a strong support base in his Ogun East Senatorial District where the younger Adebutu represents three out of the nine local government areas that make up the Senatorial District. Someone persons might say the situations and personalities are not the same. Even if that were to be correct, should we wait for history to repeat itself just because we refuse to learn from the past or other people’s experiences?

·         Kwangogo is an Abuja-based political analyst.

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